Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Math teacher Davis to lead music


By Natalie HelmsHigh school math teacher Matt Davis will take over the district’s full-time music teacher position, Haines Borough School Principal Rene Martin said Tuesday in a letter to students and parents.

This action comes after music teacher Jason Muccino was notified that his contract would not be renewed due to budget concerns. The school board voted 5-2 last week to accept Muccino’s resignation, despite testimony from about 30 students and community members advocating for the district to keep him in the job.

(Muccino’s resignation is an allowance by the district to keep a dismissal off his teaching record.)

When deciding to take over the position, Davis said he considered the high turnover of music teachers in recent years and wanted to ensure the program remained steady.

“It seemed like the best thing to do, to go all in on the music program,” he said.

Superintendent Tony Habra said the high school math job will be filled by a teacher already at the school.

“We have several different individuals who are certified and qualified to teach the math courses, so it will likely be several people. The master schedule for next year is still being developed so I don’t have specifics,” Habra said.

Davis will still teach one period of upper-level high school math per day.

Davis has taught in Haines for 20 years. He’s a lifelong trombone player who plays in the school’s pep band and Haines Community Marching Band and sings in the choral group Men of Note.

Outside of teaching, Davis said he has studied music theory and is familiar with music composition software.

“It’s an interesting sidestep from math,” Davis said. “But when I sit down to read a novel at night, books about anything but music don’t interest me anymore.”

He said he’s ordered books about teaching middle school and high school music. He plans to accompany Muccino to the High School Musical Festival in early April to network with other music teachers and is looking into attending other conferences over the summer break.

Davis said the district is also interested in finding him a mentor.

Jennifer Johnson, who is currently the kindergarten through fourth grade music teacher, will help Davis by teaching fifth and sixth grade students to play instruments, including flute, clarinet and saxophone.

“As the school gets smaller, people have to do more things,” Davis said. “I’m looking forward to it, but it’s sad to see Mr. Muccino go.”

Parent Kalani Kanahele, whose son Kamakana Kanahele sings in choir, said he sang with Men of Note when Davis taught vocal parts to the group.

“Everyone has their own style and their own way of teaching,” Kanahele said. “Matt was really patient and made sure everyone had their parts down right. He would probably do the same things with the kids. The more people you can learn from the more versatile you can become.”

Parent Leslie Evenden said she was a big fan of Davis and supportive of his transition into the music program.

“Change is hard on families,” Evenden said. “What’s really best for our district is sometimes not always best for each individual.”

Martin said she was “confident that Mr. Davis is the right person to take on this challenge.”

Another staffing change moves aide Teri Kanahele into an “interventionist” position in the elementary school, with similar responsibilities to Janice Byerlee, a reading specialist whose contract will not be renewed. Kanahele currently works as the school’s Fast ForWord specialist and summer school coordinator.

“Mrs. Kanahele is a classified paraprofessional who will be working with two certified teachers to administer the lessons. She will be working with students who need additional supports in both math and English Language Arts,” Habra said.


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